Italian for Beginners

 
Romantic, often comic but certainly for grownups.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Tense family scenes.

Sex

Sexual references and situations, including impotence, sexual insults

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters abuse alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie is romantic and often comic, but characters cope with some very serious problems, including suicide, mercy killing, fetal alcohol syndrome, impotence, the death of parents, and the consequences of divorce for the adult children.

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What's the story?

Six lonely, insecure single people sign up for a beginning Italian class that changes their lives. Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a young, newly ordained minister, is shown around the church he will be taking over temporarily. The current minister has been suspended, and Andreas is a temporary fill-in. He moves into a hotel managed by Jorgen (Peter Gantzler), a shy man who has two big problems. He has not been able to have sex for four years, and he has been told to fire his best friend, Finn (Lars Kaalund), a handsome man who loves the sports restaurant he manages but cannot manage to be nice to any of the customers. All three of them end up in the Italian class, along with a beautiful hairdresser and a clumsy bakery shop cashier. The two women, who are both caring for sick, demanding, parents, find out that they have even more in common. And Jorgen learns enough Italian to ask the pretty Italian cook who works with Finn if she would like to come to the class -- even though she already speaks Italian. And then, like Shakespearean lovers running off to the woods, they leave Denmark to go to Venice, that most romantic of cities, to sort it all out.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS is an endearing Danish movie that feels as much like a documentary as like a traditional romantic comedy. It is the kind of cute concept that Hollywood studios churn out regularly (see Liza Minnelli's "Stepping Out" for a pretty good example). But Schefberg has the courage to make the story messily un-formulaic. She trusts the audience enough to give us complicated characters coping with great loss and sadness. And here, in Dogme 95's stripped-down style, the camera puts us so close to the action that we feel we are watching a real story unfold. There are moments of great intimacy, as when the hairdresser allows her hand to caress the side of Finn's head as she washes his hair, and when Jorgen squats next to the swimming pool to ask advice about his problems with women as Andreas swims laps. And there are moments of great sweetness, as when the Italian cook steps away to consider a marriage proposal, to come racing back with her answer.

Scherfig said in an interview that there are no villains in her story, and that one difference between her story and most movies is that most movies made the audience want to be like the characters, while in her movie the characters want to be like the audience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the significance of Karen's failed attempts to cut Finn's hair, and his finally getting it done by someone else. What do we know about Andreas's late wife that makes us think his new romance will work? Why does it take a trip to Venice to allow the characters to finally take a chance? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of the Dogme 95 style? What kind of stories is it best for, and what kind would it do badly?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 22, 2002
DVD release date:October 15, 2002
Cast:Anders W. Berthelsen, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, Peter Gantzler
Director:Lone Scherfig
Studio:Miramax
Genre:Drama
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature themes and sexual references

This review of Italian for Beginners was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old March 8, 2012
age 10+
 

It Was Fantastic

I think that it is a good book.Even for all kids.Who are 10 and older.I do recommend it to kids .It shows how to speak a different language.So I would say to who ever reads it it's a good book.

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